Literacy 2023: Recap

Another year of failing to hit my target number, but being pretty happy about it nonetheless

I picked up this whole series again when I discovered Goodreads and its annual reading challenges. But the real goal for me isn’t to hit some number of books read, but a) make more time for reading for pleasure, and b) get better at summarizing my thoughts on a book without its turning into an over-long book report to prove that “I got it.” By that metric, this year’s been a success. More about rediscovering familiar books and writers than taking on anything new, although I managed to do both.

20 books in 2023

18 read

Favorite Book of Literacy 2023
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did, but early on it deviated from the format I’d thought it was going to take, and it went off to surprise me over and over again. It’s an infuriating (and I hope exaggerated) account of racism in America perfectly balanced with pulp sci-fi.

MVP of Literacy 2023
Agatha Christie. Last year I started reading or re-reading the mysteries, most of which I hadn’t read since high school, and it was more like discovering a new author than getting re-acquainted with a familiar one. I never appreciated how innovative and experimental Christie could be, or how well some of her books situated themselves in “modern times” as opposed to being quaint relics of the early 20th century.

Runner-Up MVP of Literacy 2023
Mary Roach. I kind of worked my way up to her most well-known books (Stiff and Bonk), which was a great way to get familiar with her style before seeing how good it could be when she’s firing on all cylinders. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in 2024.

Goal for Literacy 2024
12 Books in 2024. I like having an arbitrary number to encourage myself to keep reading — and I probably would’ve left Shadow of the Sith hanging had I not been driven to finish it before the end of the year — but “a book a month” is a perfectly reasonable goal. I’d rather end the year feeling happy that I exceeded one arbitrary target instead of disappointed that I didn’t hit an equally arbitrary one.

RIP to Goals of Past Years
I did try to resume The Starless Sea, as I’d pledged in previous years, but I finally had to abandon it as being just not for me. My biggest complaint was that it was so high on its own supply of magical realism that it felt twee, but I read so many positive reviews that I resolved to try again. And almost immediately, it hit me with a description of a merchant who collected stars and traded them for secrets. I mean come on.

Most Looking Forward To in 2024
The Destroyer of Worlds, the sequel to Lovecraft Country, which I got as a Christmas gift

Call to Action
I’ve still got a long backlog of books, but I’m always looking for new recommendations. If there’s anything you’ve read that made a particular impact on you, feel free to recommend it in the comments or on Mastodon!

2 thoughts on “Literacy 2023: Recap”

  1. Based on some of the books you’ve enjoyed previously, you may enjoy “Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone,” an Australian thriller-mystery thing. Quite fun. And Happy New Year!

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